Entering his 3rd season with the Colts, Gosder Cherilus looks to regain the consistency he had in his first season in Indianapolis. He played as the right tackle for the Colts for the past two seasons and spent the previous five seasons with the Lions, also playing as their right tackle. Cherilus dealt with injuries last year, and it hurt his overall play. We saw a drop off in his production, and his sacks allowed total over 1,000 snaps increased by 50%.
Cherilus signed a 5 year, $35M contract in 2013. In the third year of his contract, Cherilus is expected to have a cap hit of $6.9M, with a deap cap hit of $8.7M. This essentially secures his spot on the team for this season (barring any injury). In 2016, the Colts could save $4.1M by releasing him. You could say that this season is his "contract year", so a consistent, injury-free season is almost a must.
Cherilus played with a few different injuries last season before being placed on the Injured Reserve with a groin problem. Despite having nagging injuries last season, Cherilus has not had injury issues in the past, missing an average of less than one game per season in his six previous seasons. It would be unfair to say he has an injury problem.
During OTAs, Jack Mewhort practiced at right tackle, Cherilus' position. Last season, the Colts tried out Mewhort at center, so him playing at right tackle could just be some practice as he could be called into action next season if injuries arise. Nevertheless, him practicing at that position and Cherilus on the sidelines is not what you want to see. Mewhort's versatility could eventually force Cherilus out of a job in Indy.
Although he's only played a handful of snaps at left guard, Cherilus could be a candidate to move inside. The left guard position has a lot of questions surrounding it. Donald Thomas is currently slated as the starter, but that's a question mark. Moving Cherilus to guard would shake up a lot of things and it could be a change that the Colts don't need to make right now, but they could make that change as they have the right players to do so. Herremans seems locked in at right guard, and Mewhort, as described earlier, has experience at offensive tackle.
Another potential scenario is him playing as a backup, but this one seems far fetched. Cherilus is making, on average, $7M a year and they won't be paying that for a backup. He may not be playing right now, but at the price they're paying him and with his experience compared to many other players on this line, there is no way he would be relegated to being a backup. If Cherilus is healthy, then he is a starter.
So after reviewing all the possible scenarios, what seems to be the best for the Colts? Keeping a healthy Cherilus at right tackle and moving Mewhort back to left guard is the most beneficial and it is the safest route. Having an injury plagued player like Thomas as the starter at left guard is a risky move. Having him as a backup with Thornton and Reitz also as backups gives the Colts a talented and relatively experienced group of starters with some quality backups. Although there is nice potential if the Colts move Cherilus to left guard, it is risky and for a team that has not had a productive and good offensive line in many years, it's nice to go the safe approach. Joe Reitz is a good backup to Cherilus and if Cherilus were to go down with injury, he would be replaced by a experienced, quality (and well paid) backup. The Colts are making good strides towards achieving a good offensive line and despite the many scenarios with Gosder Cherilus, keeping Cherilus at his old spot gives the Colts the most secure scenario and outcome.